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According to the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), eligibility determinations made by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) may be struck down by a trial court only if they are “arbitrary and capricious.” In an opinion issued today, the SJC considered the MIAA’s refusal to grant a waiver to a high school athlete in his fifth year of high school.

The facts and procedural history of the case were as follows:

[The MIAA] declared a high school senior, who had repeated his junior year and had played a total of four prior years on his schools’ interscholastic teams, ineligible to play a fifth year of interscholastic football and basketball, and denied his request for an exception, as permitted under MIAA rules. The student then challenged the MIAA’s eligibility determination through a complaint in the Superior Court in the nature of certiorari, posing the novel question of the standard of review courts should apply in reviewing such claims.

The SJC held,

We conclude that a reviewing court should examine a challenge to an MIAA eligibility determination only to determine whether the decision was arbitrary and capricious. Applying that standard of review to the facts of this case, we conclude that the MIAA’s decision not to grant the student his requested exception was not arbitrary and capricious.